Kyle Busch Motorsports announced its driver lineup for the 2020 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season late Thursday afternoon.
Canadian superstar, Raphael Lessard will replace Todd Gilliland in the No. 4 Toyota Tundra, competing full-time in the Truck Series next season. The Quebec native has just three race starts this year for KBM earning a best finish of 11th at Dover this past spring. Lessard is excited to contend for Rookie of The Year in 2020.
“I’ve been working really hard the last few years to put myself in position to drive full-time for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series so this opportunity is a dream come true,” Lessard said. “I can’t thank Kyle and everyone at KBM, Toyota and TRD enough for having the confidence to put me in their truck and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of my parents and everyone that has invested in getting me to this point. Being able to drive for such a great organization in one of NASCAR’s top three series is going to be awesome and I’m going to work hard on and off the race track to learn as much as I can to get better every race.”
Team owner Kyle Busch commented about Lessard’s move to full-time.
“We’ve watched Raphael grow as both a driver and a person since joining our Super Late Model program in 2018 and we’re looking forward to being a part of his continued progression as he graduates to a full-time role in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series next year,” owner Kyle Busch said. “Similar to Erik Jones and Christopher Bell before him, Raphael joined our Super Late Model program and immediately won some big races. Then, when given a part-time Truck Series schedule, they all proved capable of running up front and earned the right to compete full time. Erik and Christopher went on to win races and a championship in trucks, now Raphael has the opportunity to continue to follow their blueprint.”
The 2018 ARCA Menards Series Champion, Christian Eckes, will also join Kyle Busch Motorsports full-time. Eckes will take over the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra, as Harrison Burton jumps to the Xfinity Series to compete with the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team.
“Returning to KBM to compete full-time for a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship with the support of Safelite AutoGlass and Toyota is an opportunity that I’ve worked my whole life for and I’m ready to take advantage of it,” Eckes said. “Being around the Truck Series the last few seasons, I’ve been able to see firsthand how much effort Safelite puts into their racing program and I’m excited to represent them not only on the track but in the communities that we race in.”
Busch also commented on Eckes’ move to driving full-time in the Truck Series.
“Christian has won races and a championship in the ARCA Series and we feel like he’s capable of doing the same driving for us full-time in the Truck Series next year,” owner Kyle Busch said. “He’s shown speed while running a part-time schedule for us the past couple of seasons — he’s won poles, led laps and been in a position to win a few races. We feel like it’s just a matter of time before he puts everything together and starts winning at this level.”
In his short career, the Middletown, New York native has made 11 starts in the past two years for KBM. Eckes has four poles with a best finish of third this past fall at Las Vegas. The new KBM driver also achieved two top fives and three top-10 finishes. Eckes previously competed full-time with Venturini Motorsports this season and won the ARCA Menards Series Championship at Kansas last month in October.